Looking for some good clean energy news to close the year? In Michigan today, Governor Rick Snyder signed two sweeping bills that the state's legislature passed on December 15th, the last day of its end-of-year ‘lame duck’ session. The legislation extends and improves both the Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) and the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).
Five years ago, ACEEE found that energy efficiency could reduce projected 2050 US energy use by 40–60%. As a result, ACEEE established a strategic goal to reduce projected 2050 energy use by 50%. We thought it was time to check on our progress and ask whether our goal still seems reasonable. We find that energy use has been stable in recent years, reversing historical growth, a very positive development that is due in significant part to increasing our energy efficiency.
Now that the hard-fought 2016 election is over, I think it is useful to consider its impact on energy efficiency policy. No doubt, a lot of uncertainty remains because of President-elect Donald Trump’s lack of specificity on many issues. Yet given the bipartisan, good-for-business appeal of energy efficiency, I see potential paths forward and work to be done.
How is energy efficiency connected to community resilience? We answered that question in a report last year, Enhancing Community Resilience through Energy Efficiency. The report found that energy efficiency should be a core resilience strategy because it strengthens energy systems and the communities they serve by providing more reliable and affordable energy.
Local governments of all sizes can invest days, months, and years into advancing energy efficiency programs and policies. Yet many go unrecognized for their efforts. Because the City Energy Efficiency Scorecard only covers 51 large cities, ACEEE created the Local Energy Efficiency Self-Scoring Tool so that any community can evaluate itself.
Looking at studies that are critical of energy efficiency: identifying useful findings and where they fall short
Several papers in the last few years claim to show that particular energy efficiency programs and policies do not work or are too expensive. We have commented on some of these in blog posts (see here, here, and here), noting that some of them do have useful insights, but also that many of them make serious mistakes.
Electric energy efficiency programs have grown substantially in the last ten years. As they’ve grown, leaders have emerged. In our new report, Big Savers: Experiences and Recent History of Program Administrators Achieving High Levels of Energy Savings, we showcase 14 of these leaders. The report is not an exhaustive review of every leading utility or program administrator, nor is it a ranking system. Instead, we tell the story of these 14 through analysis of performance data and discussions with program managers.
Energy efficiency is a proven and cost-effective strategy to reduce pollution and can help states comply with environmental regulations, including EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Even with the Supreme Court stay of the rule, there are many reasons to move forward with energy efficiency.
As energy efficiency geeks, we here at ACEEE are deep into the numbers, publishing report after report on the quads and TWh and MMT CO2 savings from efficiency. We know these numbers and units represent major benefits for the nation, but sometimes we find it hard to explain—to policymakers, advocates outside of the energy world, and even our own families—what they mean for individual American families. We’re trying to change that.